All couples fight. It is a natural part of any relationship. You are, after all, sharing a life, a home, responsibilities, children, pets, finances, etc. But, there are unhealthy and healthy ways to argue. There are ways to air your grievances, increase understanding, and take changes, without causing resentment and bringing each other down.
So how can arguing enhance your relationship, rather than dismantling it? Here are ways you can take on conflict more productively.
1) Take Ownership
Arguments can be healthy ways to resolve differences but they can also escalate. Take ownership of your feelings and your actions, rather than denying them. Your partner is likely the person you are most intimate with, the one you share your most personal moments with, so be honest. If you were late or made a mistake, admit it. Try not to get caught up in blaming your partner. If you hurt your partner’s feelings, own up to it. We all make mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions can quickly start to make your partner feel better.
2) Avoid Nitpicking and Name Calling
Fights can easily escalate when we pick at every little thing the other partner has done to make us mad, bring up past events, or call each other names. Be kind to one another. Avoid hurtful words and focus on the here and now. What is this argument about (not all the ones from the past).
When you are focused on the past or looking for the negative, this may be a sign of resentment. To avoid resentment, it helps to stick to your own boundaries in the relationship, express your true feelings, and be fair to your partner. While you’re nitpicking, you may not see areas where your partner has been trying to change. Consider this before simply blaming them for all of the problems. If these issues keep re-emerging, consider seeking help from a licensed relationship counselor.
3) Communicate Triggers
What was it that set you off? Share this with your partner. The only way to make sure the same fight doesn’t continue to happen is to be open and honest about why the argument started in the first place. Were you mad that your partner was late for dinner? And was it really because they were late, or was it because they decided to stop and meet a friend and didn’t tell you about it first? What is the real reason you are angry? It might be hard to pinpoint at first but if you can communicate calmly you likely can get to the bottom of it either on your own or together. This way, you and your partner may be able to avoid the same argument next time.
As you identify your own triggers, realize your partner has these as well. What they are upset about on the surface may not be all that’s going on. Knowing them as you do, can you think of reasons why they might react defensively to this issue? Is there anything you know about them that you’re not being sensitive about at this moment?
4) Understand If it Was A Misunderstanding
Misunderstandings happen. We are all human. Maybe you thought your partner was going to the grocery store today and they thought you said you were stopping at the store. Figure out where the misunderstanding occurred, accept it, forgive, and move on. You can’t read each other’s minds. Misunderstandings are very common in relationships, and this is why communication is key.
5) Apologize Only If You Mean It
Apologizing for the sake of apologizing might seem the right thing to do, but it’s not authentic. Your partner is likely to see through this. This gesture is meaningless if you don’t actually feel regret. If you are not sorry then think about why that is. Couples counseling can help you work through these emotions and identify causes of hidden anger or resentment, so you can build a healthy relationship.
6) Identify Solutions
Once you have calmed down from your argument, talk to each other about triggers and process the issues so that you don’t have the same fight again. Maybe you need a shared calendar so you both are on the same page with what you have going on.
Or, maybe you need to schedule time in the day to have check-in conversations. Maybe you need more date nights. Whatever it is that triggered the argument this time, come up with a solution so it doesn’t happen again.
Ultimately the two of you are a team. You are in this relationship together. You love and care for one another. Set ground rules for your arguments. Take the time to cool off. And, if you are struggling with how to fight healthy, seek help.
If you want to prevent arguments and learn ways to work through fights with your partner, we are a group of skilled therapists specializing in couples/marriage counseling. Since Covid started we have been working with couples providing online marriage counseling in New York, New York City, Scarsdale, South Hampton, West Hampton, East Hampton, Long Island, Buffalo and Albany. Schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking HERE.
The Relationship Suite
We are a group of skilled therapists specializing in couples/marriage counseling. Since Covid started we have been working with couples providing Online Couples Counseling in New York, New York City including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, South Hampton, East Hampton, Montauk. Schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking HERE.
Due to Covid we are also providing Virtual Couples Counseling in New Jersey, Hoboken, Jersey City, Princeton, Chatham, Morris, Westfield, Union, Bergen County, Colts Neck, Tenafly. Schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking HERE.